Rural Intelligence: The Online Magazine for Eastern New York, Western Connecticut and the Southern Berkshires
Thursday, February 23, 2017
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Our Own Rural Gardner

Ralph Gardner Jr, who divides his time between Columbia County and New York City, is the Wall Street Journal’s former “Urban Gardner” columnist. His weekend commentaries on country life can be heard on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio. Click here for his latest observations.

The NYT Style Magazine
A Vibrant Upstate New York Town, Set Against a Quaint Backdrop

The New York Times loves Germantown, N.Y. as much as we do.

The Wall Street Journal
In the Hudson River Valley, a Family Legacy in Riverfront Mansions

A small group of wealthy homeowners — hotelier André Balazs and artist Brice Marden among them — have restored the estates of the Livingston clan.

The New York Times
A Summer Day With Gregory Crewdson

The photographer takes us through his daily routine in Great Barrington, Mass.

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Shopping: A Light In The Dark At Shandell's In Sheffield, Mass.

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Susan Schneider is a one-woman whirlwind who spins vintage materials, hand-painted and marbled papers and dyed shibori fabrics into one-of-a-kind lampshades. And when we say handmade, we mean she makes it all herself. The proprietor of Shandell’s, now located in an antique house in Sheffield, Mass. is also a lighting expert who can wire just about anything you bring her into a fixture you won’t find anywhere else. The self-taught “lamp lady,” who first began selling her wares in a shop in Millerton, New York, also creates nightlights, tissue boxes, decoupaged glass trays, matchboxes and more, as she attempts to change the world one original item at a time.

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At Year 6, Pittsfield 10x10 Upstreet Festival Still Sum-Thing Great

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For some, midwinter means hitching on snowshoes or heading for the nearest ski area. Others make like bears and have to be lured out of hibernation. That’s the mission of Pittsfield’s 10x10 Upstreet Arts Festival and it has perfected that operation by now. You’d be amazed at the hustle-bustle that comes to life during the annual festival, and for good reason: there’s a huge variety of performances, parties and other activities dreamed up by an ever-increasing list of organizations including Barrington Stage Company, the Beacon Cinema, Berkshire Athenaeum & Berkshire Historical Society, Berkshire Art Association, Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF), Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Running Center and others. Keeping with the theme, we offer up ten events out of many scheduled for your consideration.

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Recipe contributor Lisa Fielding realized that the traditional spaghetti and meatballs dish needed some inspiration. So when asked to come up with a recipe including protein and pasta, she took what was on hand — ground turkey and eggplant —  and created meatballs with a caramelized garlic olive oil sauce over spaghetti. The result: “blonde” meatballs and spaghetti.

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The Tivoli Artists Gallery plans its popular Annual Erotica Show for this time of year and the opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 18 was full of sexy, light-hearted fun. More than 30 artists exhibited work in diverse formats while the crowd enjoyed a cabaret performance, an appearance by a belly dancer and erotic edibles. We were there and you don’t want to miss these photos.

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What is your dream-come-true scenario of home ownership? You’re in luck if it’s a huge barn and indoor riding ring for horses on 21 acres in Williamstown, or a backyard garden with five waterfalls in Litchfield. History buffs will enjoy the circa-1780 stagecoach house in Claverack, and Copake Lake lovers will swoon at 20 feet of exclusive waterfront and a large boat dock. The choice is yours.

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The trend forecasters are predicting the blues for springtime — not the feeling, but the shade — in everything from bold sapphires to soft baby blues and everything in between. We asked an expert, Lori Thorpe Rasmus, an interior designer at Paul Rich & Sons, for advice on how to make blue work in your home.

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Prana Bar, formerly the Great Barrington satellite of Haven Café and Bakery, is a new restaurant that begs repeated visits. Owner Shelly Williams has dreamed up a cozy nightspot, serving globally inspired “street food” that fuses comfort — ramen, fried chicken, cookies — with exotic tang.

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Singer, actor and vocal coach Wanda Huston is one of those “local” performers who lend to the RI region’s world-class reputation. She’s worked in musical theater and concert stages, toured with Mary Wells and The Platters, and appeared on and off Broadway. She tells us how she made her way here.

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Instant Intelligence

For even more information about upcoming events, check out our Dining, Music & Dance, Visual Arts, Shopping, Books, Theater, Movies, and Save the Date sections. Please submit your own event to

Feb. 23, Pittsfield 10x10 Real Art Party As part of the city’s 10x10 Festival, the Berkshire Art Association presents its art party, with a chance to win your choice of a 10"x10” piece by a local artist. Berkshire Museum, 6 p.m.

Feb. 23, Hudson Club Helsinki John Doe, the cofounder, co-vocalist and chief songwriter of the legendary punk-rock outfit X, will perform songs from his latest “psychedelic soul” album, The Westerner, and selections from his entire career. 8 p.m.

Feb. 25, Pittsfield Berkshire Athenaeum Links for Literacy: Berkshire Gas Mini-Golf Classic. A 10-hole golf course (to complement the 10×10 Upstreet Arts Festival) will be set up inside the library, taking advantage of all three floors, to benefit Literacy Volunteers. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Feb. 27, Annandale-on-Hudson Bard College Francine Prose, Bard’s visiting professor of literature and the former president of PEN American Center, will read from her most recent novel, Mister Monkey. 2:30 p.m.

Feb. 28, Lenox Lenox Library Touch the Air: a mixed media performance of poems by the late Poet Laureate William J. Smith, composed & produced by Alice Spatz with filmmaker Eric Shepherd & performers Teresa Mango, Gwendolyn Tunnicliffe & Andrew Plimpton. 6 p.m.

March 3, Lenox Benefit Gala for Andrew DeVries & Patricia Purdy Eat, drink and mingle with your neighbors while you support local sculptor Andrew DeVries after a fire destroyed his casting studio, molds and many works of art. Ventfort Hall, 6-9 p.m.

March 4, Hudson Hudson Library The Living Library: meet with experts to learn how to conserve old family photos & documents, research local family history, sew a button, find and download apps to your phone or device, properly care for the American flag & more. 3-5 p.m.

March 4, Williamstown Clark Art Dinner and the Show: enjoy private access to Japanese Impressions: Color Woodblock Prints with a talk by exhibit curator Jay Clarke, then dine on a prix-fixe dinner by Chef Dan Hardy. Talk at 6:30 p.m.; dinner at 7:30 p.m.

March 4, Hyde Park Cabaret at the CIA: Denise Summerford Half Moon Theatre presents Cover Girl, an evening of music by the award-winning Broadway actress. The show is a reworking of popular modern music into different musical genres. Price includes dinner. 7:30 p.m.

March 4 & 5, Adams ThunderFest The 82nd Anniversary Thunderbolt Ski Run, followed by the downtown ThunderFest celebrations on Sat. New this year are two more races on Sun.: the ThunderTrek Snowshoe Race & the ThunderGlide Cross-Country Ski Race.

March 7, Williamstown Theater of War This public health project presents a reading of scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax as a catalyst for discussion about visible & invisible wounds of war, featuring Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards) & Marjolaine Goldsmith. Williams College, 7:30 p.m.

For even more information about upcoming events, check out our:
Dining Intelligence (Listings of Food and Drink Events & Restaurant Features)
Music & Dance Listings
Visual Arts Listings
Local Shopping Listings
Books Listings
Theater Listings
Local Movies Listings
Save the Date Listings
Please submit your own event to